This wasn’t the year the Summer Olympics were supposed to take place in Tokyo, but that didn’t stop Long Beach from having another solid contingent of representatives in the games and that’s why it’s our No. 9 moment of the Long Beach sports year. There were 17 athletes with ties to Long Beach who traveled to Japan for the unique experience of competing without fans because of COVID-19 concerns.
“It’s awesome to have guys from Long Beach here representing the city and the next generation,” Wilson alum and water polo player Max Irving said. “I think (me and Hannes Daube) are the only members of the team who are kind of from the same city or town. It’s very unique and a testament to the rich aquatic tradition that we have in Long Beach.”
Irving and Daube both grew up competing with Shore Aquatics, and the famous water polo club has now sent 27 athletes to the Olympics since 1996.
Long Beach State volleyball also continued its strong Olympic tradition with six players and coaches traveling to Tokyo. TJ DeFalco and Kyle Ensing, who won National Championships at LBSU, were both members of the USA men’s indoor team. DeFalco was a huge part of the outside attack for Team USA.
Setter Josh Tuaniga and defensive specialist Dustin Watten were both alternates for the USA indoor team. Also, new LBSU women’s volleyball coach Tyler Hildebrand was the director of the USA beach program, while former LBSU women’s volleyball assistant coach Matt Fuerbringer was an assistant for the men’s indoor team.
“It’s a huge point of pride for me,” said LBSU men’s volleyball coach Alan Knipe, who was the Team USA men’s indoor coach at the London Olympics. “When we recruit these guys we bring them in and talk about expecting greatness in everything they do. It’s not out of reach to be an Olympian or a professional, or to be exceptional in other fields. To watch our guys hit the pinnacle and their number one goal, it’s emotional, every time.”